Family Communion


There are milestones in life.  Well, not really so much milestones as memorial “stones” along the path of life.  God is kind to give us these to remind us of His ever-guiding hand of faithfulness.  He reminds us that He is there, moving and orchestrating our life in this fallen world.  He is the Master-Weaver, Redeemer!  Weaving, redeeming and owning our sin-stained story as part of His pure master redemptive story.  But often in our moments of decision making, we wonder if the results are going to be mountains of hay and stubble or gold, silver and precious stones.  We step out in the little faith that we often have and keep moving forward.  Keep moving in His direction, as we believe it to be at the time – from our limited viewpoint and imperfect faith.  Resurrection being our only hope, regardless!  As Paul Miller, author of A Loving Life, says, “We experience life, the story we inhabit, as if we are walking backward.  The future is completely unknown.  We see the present through our peripheral vision, through a kind of fog.  Only the past has some clarity, and that clarity increases with time.”  And memorial stones are those reminders to our forgetful souls that God has worked in the past, is working and will always be – no matter what!  He is alive!

One such memorial “stone” for us in the past five months is that we have experienced getting to take communion for the first time with our four oldest children.  This might sound ho-hum.  But to us it is huge!  Each of our children came to be a part of our family through their own God-written story.  An individual story that links them to a larger family’s story, with roots back to Noah and Abraham, David and Elijah. God plucked them from a sure destruction and gave them a new name and heritage, running deeper than any blood relations.  But solely based on His blood shed on the cross!  And each child’s story woven into ours represents death.  Death of a birth mother’s girlhood dreams, death to our freedoms (“love narrows the path but broadens the soul”, as Paul Miller reminds us again).  Love begins with death.  And there we sat last night at our church’s Good Friday service, our two six-year-olds taking Jesus’ body for their first tangible remembrance in their story of redemption. And there sat my son whom we picked up from the hospital at 2 days old and there sat our daughter whom we embraced for the first time half-way across the world when she was 5.  And how can it be that of all the millions and millions, they came to be with us.  A loving, wise, master-weaver who knew the end of the story, before its beginning.  At the time of each adoption, the future was completely  unknown (as it continues to be) and the present was very foggy (as it continues to be).  But now, a little ways down the path, we see clearly His hand as we look back!  He inhabits eternity and all our “now” moments.

One of my favorite musical artists these days is Matt Maher.  The words are rich and life-giving to my soul as I listen – usually in the midst of life’s busyness.  One of my favorites is a song called Remembrance.  It is such an amazing reminder!  Read the words below and be amazed again at what Christ Jesus has done.  He came, He died, He rose again, He’s writing our story.  And we get to be a part of His!  As we take His life, death and resurrection as our own, giving up on all else and embracing Him alone, we find what we could never have found or had on our own – a family with deep roots, a family whose story of redemptive love and communion is our own.  Praise Jesus!

Oh, how could it be
That my God would welcome me into this mystery
Say take this bread, take this wine
Now the simple made divine for any to receive
By Your mercy, we come to Your table
By Your grace, You are making us faithful
Lord, we remember You
And remembrance leads us to worship
And as we worship You
Our worship leads to communion
We respond to Your invitation, we remember You
See His body, His blood
Know that He has overcome every trial we will face
None too lost to be saved
None too broken or ashamed, all are welcome in this place
By Your mercy, we come to Your table
By Your grace, You are making us faithful
Lord, we remember You
And remembrance leads us to worship
And as we worship You
Our worship leads to communion
We respond to Your invitation, we remember You
Dying You destroyed our death
Rising You restored our life
Lord Jesus, come in glory
Lord Jesus, come in glory
Lord Jesus, come in glory
Lord Jesus, come in glory
Lord, we remember You
And remembrance leads us to worship
And as we worship You
Our worship leads to communion
We respond to Your invitation
We respond to Your invitation, we remember You

Kombucha Gummies


I saw this recipe recently on Pinterest and decided to try it. My kids love gummies, and healthy gummies, not laden with sugar is a win in my book!

The kids have devoured half of them in the last couple of minutes with our youngest informing us she was getting fatter. Ha! This double batch has 48 grams of protein as well as the probiotic benefits of the kombucha. The secret ingredient is Great Lakes unflavored beef gelatin, a collagen joint care product with a ton of benefits, including protein.

The recipe:

2 cups kombucha (we used homemade cherry kombucha)
2 cups fruit purée (mango and black raspberry…but seedless fruit would be better)
8 Tablespoons gelatin
3-4 Tablespoons honey

Warm kombucha (not boiling, as that will destroy its benefits) and whisk in gelatin. Add purée and honey. Pour into molds or a buttered pan to later cut into squares. Refrigerate a couple of hours.

Really anything could be added to these as long as the liquid to gelatin ratio stays similar. So the options are endless! They were quick, yummy and healthy.

Friday Laughs…Or Maybe Tears



While reading the creation story again to the kids (we finished the Gospel Story Bible, so started it all over again) recently, the thought struck me that Satan is the ultimate tattler and the father of it.  We are in a phase of life where it seems that the kids are in this increasingly bad habit of tattling on each other.  I am sure it is attributed to our lack of something…always, right!?  I know that I sometimes listen to their tattling and sometimes don’t, so they have some incentive to gossip about each other on the chance I will happen to take sides at that moment.  Lord help me to have wisdom and consistency!  So the word around the house has been that tattling is of the devil.  We try to encourage them to go to the person they have a problem with and talk to them about it and only if that person won’t listen – well, Matthew 18.  I tell them that it is our job as their parents to give them the tools they need to increasingly learn how to be like Jesus.  And I remind them daily that I AM NOT a perfect mother…like they don’t already know.  But that we DO have a perfect Father!  And it is amazing how kids pick up on this and take it to heart…or sometimes use it to continue getting what they want. Hee!  So the kids were all sitting in the van, waiting on us to be done with something a couple of days ago.  I open the door and the first thing I hear is M (our 7-year-old daughter) telling me that Buzz (6-year-old) is about to do the work of the devil.  I had to turn around and laugh!!  So I immediately knew that she had done something and didn’t want her brother telling on her.  But how convenient to remind him that he was going to be “doing the work of the devil” to get her off the hot seat.  Buzz didn’t seem to mind that title and continued on with his tattling.  Oh dear…still laughing (and praying)!

I am so thankful, and increasingly so, that the Lord is a perfect parent, always consistent and wise.  Always loving in his moment by moment dealings with us.  His mercies are new every morning and his faithfulness reaches to the skies!

I have to share one more story.  We have had the immense privilege of attending our church’s missions conference this week.  It was so well done and Jesus-glorifying.  We loved hearing what the Lord has done and is doing through His servants around the world.  I could go on and on!  But our oldest son (9) is bound and determined he is going to be a missionary. This has been on his heart for a while now.  Of course, it has to be combined with the ship he plans on buying and sailing around the world.  Ha!  He is currently writing a story that he wants to make into a movie. His story is called “Consumed” and is all about being consumed by and for the Gospel.  It tells the story of a family (white family, he says) that travels to Africa, adopts black kids along the way and shares the Gospel as they go.  It is so heart-warming!  But he leans over to Adam in the middle of church, the week before the missions conference, and says something along the lines of, “I want to be sure and come the missions conference so that I can learn how to be a missionary.  I want to be a missionary, no matter what!  Even if I get my heart cut out.”  Ha!

May we all have the child-like faith of the little warriors among us.  I tell my kids all the time that adults have to come to Jesus as little children, with that quiet trust that simply believes and is willing to obey.

Happy Friday!

Delicious Calzones


I made these calzones for the kids tonight. Adam and I have been doing an Isagenix cleanse and staying away from gluten since the beginning of February, so we couldn’t eat them. But I love baking and trying new things and my hungry kiddos are happy to eat them. This recipe from The Pioneer Woman was delicious. I made a double batch of my tried-and-true pizza bread from scratch using half whole wheat (see recipe below), but other than that I followed her recipe pretty closely. Definitely one to add to the family cookbook for a re-do.
Perfect Pizza Crust

Recipe By: Taste of Home
Yield: 1 pizza


1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water, 115-120 degrees
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning


1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, salt, 1 cup bread flour and the whole wheat flour as well as the parmesan cheese and seasoning. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining bread flour to form a soft dough (dough will be slightly sticky).
2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).
3. Punch dough down; roll into a 15-inch circle. Grease a 14-inch pizza pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. Transfer dough to prepared pan; build up edges slightly.
4. Add toppings of your choice.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and toppings are lightly browned and heated through.


A Life Celebration…and a Look Back

It is so hard to believe that it’s been one year since we had the immense privilege of holding our baby girl’s first-ever birthday celebration.  (Birthday celebrations were not a part of their lives in the DRC.) Where does time go?  Today, and this weekend, we got to celebrate her life for the second time, in an extra-special way. Every day is a celebration of life, right?!  But little B-Lamb, also known as the family “puppy”, turned 4 today and what a precious gift she is to us.

I was thinking back recently to the very first time I saw she and Joy-Bubble and got to hold them in my arms.









It had been a long 7-month fight to get to Africa to bring our new little girls home.  Adam went first and then I had flown by myself into one of the most broken countries in the world, arriving at night…a white woman, walking through a very African airport surrounded by military, UN officers, police – everywhere…with machine guns.  I will always remember that moment I stepped off the plane outside, at night.  I will remember it because I should have been scared out of my mind, but I was so excited and unnaturally calm.  And those African faces were beautiful and intriguing.  It was one of those times that I felt in a very tangible way the presence of my Heavenly Father.  God’s love took us there, a big jump out of our comfort zone, in temporary ways and permanent, and His grace surrounded us each step.  It was an amazing experience all the way around.  And looking back, it was our gracious Heavenly Father that got us through every step of the way.  I have asked, “How did I do that?” It was not something that I could have ever done without His guiding hand, protection and grace!

The next day, the moment came for us to travel through a city of 10 million to arrive at the orphanage to pick our girls up, girls I had never met or laid eyes on, other than in photos.  And these were my girls!  I could not wait to get there and meet them and begin showering them with love.  To let them know that they were loved and cherished by a mama and papa and brothers and sister who were waiting for them.  Forever family who had invested much into getting to them.  It must be a glimpse into how Jesus feels now…waiting for the moment the Father tells Him to go get His children at the end of the ages.   He is coming for us!

Here in the new state where we live, where trans ethnic adoption seems a bit rare compared to where we are coming from, I have gotten some of the most interesting (let’s just be nice and call it that) comments and looks and stares.  “Oh bless you for doing that.”  or “Aren’t you so nice.” Kind of like we just took in puppies and what a big heart we must have.  As if orphans aren’t human, made in the image of God, and our responsibility as the children of God.  What is at the core of God’s heart  is where I want my heart to be beating!  Adoption is definitely countercultural – everywhere.  But it is at the heart of God our Father.  It is His culture and praise His name that it is so, or where would I be?  How could I, as a sinful woman (a very unloving sinful woman, I might add) lay eyes for the first time on two little girls that I did not bear from my own body, a bit older than usually acceptable, total strangers, a bit dirty and smelly, in a third-world country, and $40,000 poorer  -  for the very first time, and feel amazing love, compassion and a fighting mother-bear instinct.  It was God!  Can I shout it from the mountaintop?!! It was GOD!  He chose me and sent His Son to rescue me and adopt me – plucking me from the pit.  And as we live in the “already, but not yet” we long for His final and grand return.

I remember walking into the orphanage, seeing a sea of beautiful brown faces, and searching for our girls.  They came to us immediately and it was in that moment that I fell in love with them.  Little B-Lamb clung to me and smiled.  She was dirty and her clothes were mismatched but her smile and beautiful face grabbed my heart.  A smile that afterwards we heard never happened. She was known to cry all the time at the orphanage.  And she and I just had that instant bond.  Adam and I just kept telling the girls over and over again that we loved them (in Lingala)…a bit countercultural to the sweet Africans watching.  We were definitely the sappy Westerners!  And I love that girl today just as fiercely and even more dearly.  She was following me around the house the other day (as she often does…she is a worker and helper!) and I heard her talking under breath saying, “Mom’s the best. Mom’s the best. Mom’s the best.”  Oh my goodness!! Melt my heart.  I am still blown away when I hear her say, “Mama.”  What a beautiful privilege and a huge responsibility.  And anyone who has been a mother for a while knows, this is just the beginning.  The fight to bring them here will have been nothing in comparison to the prayers, tears, gray hairs, longings and intercessions made for her as long as I have breath.

So it has been almost a year and a half now since we became a forever family.  And again, it’s my Father who gets all the credit for how well everyone has meshed together and grown as an expanded family.  Seven sinners (actually 9 since we’re living with in-laws – ha!) living under the same roof – living life together everyday…very closely.  And my Father is kind!  Last night, our Joy-Bubble couldn’t contain her excitement for B-Lamb’s birthday today.  And all the others woke up with extreme excitement – kind of like it was Christmas morning or something.  Nope, just B-Lamb’s birthday. They all love this little lady, a little one grafted into our family and forever enriching and changing our life stories.  Grace…all is grace.

Here are some recent photos to show her 4th birthday:

IMG_4658She got to take her turn going out on a date with her daddy.

IMG_4629We enjoyed the one nice day lately and went to the zoo (an old birthday tradition from when the three originals were younger).  It was a blast!  Here we photographed the boy we are missing in the family. Ha!


IMG_4671She chose strawberry pancakes for her breakfast (we ended up with crepe cake).  We love food and birthdays in our family!


My gluten free version of a Pinterest find here.  Adam said it was the best sweet breakfast food he had ever put in his mouth.

IMG_4683For lunch, she requested yogurt (and vitamins – ha!) So we turned it into a yogurt bar, with lots of fruit and some granola crunch.







IMG_4717She requested a strawberry birthday cake.  So here is my gluten free version of this Pinterest find.  It was absolutely delicious!




Each of our original three children has a song that we gave them years ago.  One is The Lily of the Valley. Another is How Firm a Foundation.  And the third is A Mighty Fortress is Our God.  This song will be their song for life.  One that, by God’s grace, will flow through their minds at random times, reminding them of the love and care of their Father.  We pray it’s an anchor for their souls.  An anchor to a family that is bigger than us – one that has Abraham and Moses and David in their heritage.  A reminder that their story is a small part of the larger redemptive story He is writing that will be consummated at His return.

So today we chose All I Have Is Christ for little B-Lamb.  Here are the words below.  Read and be encouraged in what Christ has done for you and will do in and through you.

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)







Glimpsing Rest…

I love having Scripture on my walls. There is just something about being surrounded with the living and powerful Word each day that helps to keep my heart focused on Him. Currently all wall art is in storage, and I have missed it! But Adam bought me this new one while we were shopping in Amish Country yesterday. Psalm 62 has always been a special chapter, which is why this caught my eye. I remember reciting it with my family growing up, although it is much dearer to me now. So we are squeezing it into our current room as a reminder to rest in Him alone. Ah! Breathe in deeply and REST in Him! All else is sinking ground, unstable, changing, fading away. Anxiety and worry produce nothing. But resting in Christ alone is the stability our redeemed souls long for and where I desperately want to be found each day. And this reminder is a gift to help me. Thank you, Father.


Bread Bowls

We have recently started watching a few Pioneer Woman episodes on Amazon Prime.  After watching one of them, Rhee got us all hungry for soup served in bread bowls.  In one of my last posts, I mentioned how much I love baking bread.  And these bread bowls have been a favorite stand-by, though I usually just make round loaves and slice them up.  But this time, bread bowls it was!  And to make it an even more special, I had a devoted helper – our sweet Buzzy.  He loves to help out in the kitchen and was so happy to squish some bread in his hands.










Bread Bowls

Recipe By: Taste of Home
Yield: 4 round loaves

Ingredients: (I double this recipe)

1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons water, 120 degrees
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour (white or mixture of white and wheat)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast


1. Combine 1/2 cup warm water with yeast and sugar. Let stand until bubbly.

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients and add yeast mixture to it. Mix until dough pulls away from bowl (adding a little more flour, if necessary). Turn onto floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes (or until smooth and elastic).

3. Place in a greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour). Divide into 4 small balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet or baking stone. Let rise until doubled.

4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

What’s for dinner…

…Black beans and rice with chicken sausage, green beans and leftover homemade cornbread. And have I said I cannot remember life before my rice cooker? :-)


Orange Rolls



One of my favorites in life is baking bread.  Fifteen years ago it scared me to death!  But now, I love it and jump at any chance I get to knead something up.  Well…I don’t knead it.  My Bosch bread mixer does that.  A machine that has been going strong for over 15 years now.  I throw all my ingredients into the gigantic bowl and let it run for about 8 minutes (while I clean up the kitchen) and there you have it…beautiful dough ready for it’s first rising.  And since we aren’t parting from gluten at the moment…well, the Bosch has gotten a workout.

For my family’s Christmas, I was asked to bring sweet rolls of some kind.  I had just made cinnamon rolls the week before and was looking for something a little different.  I remembered my sister Stephanie’s orange rolls (a favorite from my grandmother) and decided that they would be perfect.  And they did turn out so delicious!  I heard my brother James telling someone that they were the best rolls he had ever eaten.  That was a compliment!  So here is the recipe.  I hope you and yours enjoys as much as we all did.

Grandma’s Orange Rolls

Yield: 30 rolls


1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water, 110-115 degrees
1 cup warm milk, 110-115 degrees
1/4 cup palm shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg , lightly beaten
3 1/2-3 3/4 cups flour (white or mixture of white and wheat)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons grated orange peel

2 cups confectioners sugar
8 teaspoons butter, softened
8-10 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon extract

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water.
2. In a large bowl stir milk, shortening or butter, sugar, salt and egg together. Add yeast mixture and blend. Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
3. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
4. Punch dough down; divide in half. Roll each half into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle.
5. Mix filling ingredients until smooth. Spread half of the filling on each rectangle. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with the long end. Cut each into 15 rolls. Place in two greased 11 x 7 x 2 inch baking pans.
6. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Mix glaze ingredients; spread over warm rolls.




Homemade Thieves Deodorant


For several years now, I have made my own deodorant.  For years before that, Adam would mention to me the dangers of antiperspirants and finally convinced me to use deodorant without them.  I hate sweating!  But it is a natural part of being human.  So it just isn’t natural to block up your pores with aluminum so that you won’t sweat.  The best option is to find something that at least keeps you smelling good while you are sweating. (smiles)  I have yet to find a “crunchy” brand that works for me.  My original batch included peppermint and melaleuca essential oils.  But the latest batch of homemade seems to work the best ever at keeping me smelling nice as well as cutting down on breast tenderness.  It might sound strange, but I have noticed a marked difference in this area when I’ve gone back to store-bought antiperspirant deodorants over the past several years.  Then when I go back to using my homemade, the tenderness almost completely disappears…do you think there is a connection between what we put on our arm pits and breast health?!

The secret ingredient to the latest batch:  Thieves essential oil.

I gave a bit of the latest batch to my mother-in-law who has bravely tried it and says it worked for her.  Making your own takes a small bit of time and an even smaller bit of money – compared to the expensive organic brands.  And the benefits of coconut oil and Thieves Essential Oil being rubbed over your lymph system daily are significant.  I now have a daughter that needs to use deodorant and cannot imagine putting aluminum into her body at such a young age – or ever. She thinks the homemade stuff is awesome, probably because she wants to do exactly what I do. Precious and a big responsibility!  And soon, she’ll be able to make it for us.  Yay! I encourage you to try it!  And be sure to let me know what you think.


My original recipe was from Passionate Homemaking’s site.  Thankfully Lindsay has kept her site up, even though she no longer blogs, because I go to her site each time I need to make more.  I should write the recipe down or add to my cookbook. But here is my latest concoction:

1 cup coconut oil, room temperature or slightly warmed, if it is really hard (I get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs)

slightly under 1/2 cup baking soda

slightly over 1/2 cup arrowroot starch**

15 drops Thieves Essential Oil from Young Living (we ingest this oil, rub it on our feet, necks, wrists, diffuse it…definitely one of the most versatile oils we use! And the benefits are listed below.)

Mix all together well with a fork until a creamy consistency.  It honestly looks and smells like you could eat it!  I store in a plastic or glass container.  It is the perfect consistency in the winter and slightly runny in the summer, so it is good to make it in smaller batches for summer.  Just rub a small dollop under each arm and you are good to go.

**The total powder in the recipe should equal 1 cup.  I find that using more arrowroot starch than baking soda makes for a less harsh deodorant.

****AUGUST 21, 2014 UPDATE****

I made a new batch and decided to mix it up a bit this time.  After some more research, I decided to split the oil amount evenly between coconut oil and shea butter.  I also added some sea salt.  It is working GREAT!  Even in the middle of the hot season, one application each day has done it.

I plan to play around with bentonite clay next time…


In closing, I thought I would share the benefits of Thieves Essential Oil, mentioned above (taken from The Reference Guide for Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley, as I mentioned in my last post on essential oils, this has proven to be an invaluable book!):

“The highly antiviral and antiseptic properties of the single oils contained in this blend help protect the body from the onset of flu, candida, colds, etc.  It may also help with sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, coughs, strep, sore throats, periodontal (gum) disease, teething, cold sores, canker sores, bruises, cuts, infections, slivers, and splinters (pulls to surface).  It is considered antiplague, as it was used by thieves in England to protect them from the plague when stealing from the sick and dying.”

I also find the following information (from the same book) fascinating and remember it each time I add Thieves to our diffuser.  This is what I call “gettin’ it done” and without harmful chemicals!

“Studies conducted by Weber State University (Ogden, UT) in 1997 showed the antibacterial effectiveness of this blend (Thieves) against airborne microorganisms.  One study showed a 90% reduction in the number of Gram-positive micrococcus luteus organisms after diffusing Thieves for 12 minutes.  After diffusing Thieves for a total of 20 minutes, there was a 99.3% reduction.  Another study with the Gram-negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa showed a kill rate of 99.6% after just 12 minutes of diffusion.”